Slavonia. Due to Croatia's unusual shape, very few visitors get to experience the country's northeastern region of Slavonia — it seems simply too out of the way in relation to the country's beach hubs. That is a shame because Slavonia is a truly authentic part of the country with a lot to offer — you'll find traditional villages, architecture, and cuisine that have a lot in common with Central Europe, and the large and picturesque wetlands area of Kopački Rit. An off-the-beaten-path destination without the crowds you'll find elsewhere in the country, Slavonia is also closer than you probably think — the region's largest city, Osijek, is less than a three-hour drive from Zagreb and Papuk Nature Park is just a four-hour drive from the coastal city of Rijeka. Osijek also has an international airport.
Rijeka. Since we've mentioned Rijeka, this northwestern city also deserves a closer look. Although it is certainly known — it is, after all, the third-largest city in the country — most travelers bypass it for either the beaches of Istria or Dalmatia or the grandeur of Zagreb. Those who do stop here will find interesting architecture with Venetian influences, the impressive Maritime and Historical Museum, the Astronomical Center of Rijeka, and some of the most picturesque coastal drives in the country. Even the city's beaches, while not as famous as some others in Croatia, are really enjoyable. Rijeka is one of the European Capitals of Culture of 2020.
Risnjak National Park. Plitvice Lakes National Park is the most famous protected area in Croatia and most visitors to the country have probably at least heard about it. But did you know that there are seven other national parks in Croatia (plus a number of smaller "nature parks")? Our pick of the rest of the bunch is Risjnak, a fairly small, but supremely scenic protected area located on the country's border with Slovenia. Made up of white-and-green peaks, ancient caves, and mixed forests, it is also home to surprising diverse wildlife such as red deer, brown bear, chamois, and especially lynx — this wild feline, known in Croatian as ris, gives the park its name. Risnjak is a 45-minute drive from Rijeka, 90 minutes from Zagreb, two hours from Pula, and about 2 hours and 30 minutes from Zadar.